Cookbook of the week: Hello, Jell-O!
Tue Mar 20 2012
Welcome to the first installment of "Cookbook of the Week," a potentially weekly series highlighting new releases.
In this week's TOC, Heather Shouse tells the story of Annemarie Katz, a bartender at [node:178009 link=The Charleston;] who is taking Jell-O shots to a higher level using classic cocktails as inspiration. Similar experiments are taking place at [node:15148611 link=Ada Street;], the just-opened bar from the DMK/Fish Bar crew, which offered complimentary Aviation-inspired Jell-O shots to patrons. On the heels of this bizarre Jell-O shot convergence comes Victoria Belanger's Hello, Jell-O! (Ten Speed Press, $16.99), a cookbook made up exclusively of recipes for "gelatin treats and jiggly sweets." The cover features a lime peel filled with a strawberry-vodka Jell-O shot such that it resembles a slice of watermelon—in other words, a Jell-O shot I could not resist. (The cover also states that, "This book is not sponsored by, endorsed by, or affiliated in any way with JELL-O.")
There are certainly easier recipes in the book than the "Petite Watermelons," and Belanger's primary focus is not alcoholic Jell-O recipes (though she does devote one chapter, "Boozy Molds," to it). The "watermelon" recipe is actually from the "Americana and Other Favorites" chapter, which also includes Jell-O molds that riff on peanut-butter-and-jelly and New York–style cheesecake. From making these little guys I learned two things: (1) A recipe that includes the ingredient "limes, halved, pulp scooped out and discarded" is trying to hide from you the fact that you will actually need to devote precious years (read: half an hour) of your life to the excruciatingly mind-numbing process of cutting, with kitchen shears, the pulp out of limes; and (2) The key to Jell-O is time. These charmingly retro recipes take hour after hour to set, and in the case of the watermelons, they actually have to set twice. (I didn't budget nearly enough hours for this project, hence my not-quite-set shots pictured above.) Is this a cookbook for people with too much time on their hands? Yes. That's why I salute it.